Always an Av: Hejduk officially announces retirement

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On Monday, Milan Hejduk called it a career.

Hejduk, 38, had previously told a Czech news outlet of his plans to walk away from professional hockey but, today, the official word came from the Avalanche — fitting, because Colorado was the only team Hejduk played for over his 14-year career, appearing in over 1,000 games in an Avalanche uniform.

“I was fortunate to play many years at this level with a great organization and unbelievable teammates,” he said in a statement.“I realized my lifelong dream of not only playing in the NHL but winning a Stanley Cup.

“My family and I are proud to call Denver home and are enjoying our time together.”

The Czech winger enjoyed tremendous success in Colorado, scoring 23 points in 23 games en route to the 2001 Stanley Cup. Two years later, Hedjuk put forth his best offensive season, capturing the Maurice Richard Trophy on the strength of 50 goals while finishing with a career-high 98 points.

A three-time All-Star, Hejduk was one of the faces of the organization following its move from Quebec. His 375 goals and 805 points are the fourth-most in the history of the Avalanche/Nordiques franchise, and his 1,020 games played for the organization are second only to Hockey Hall Fame member Joe Sakic.

Hejduk was a decorated international performer as well. He won a pair of Olympic medals for the Czechs — gold at Nagano ’98, bronze at Turin ’06 — also representing his country at the World Juniors and World Hockey Championships.

He retires as the third-leading Czech scorer in NHL history, trailing only Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias.

Video: Ovechkin rocks custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.

On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Video: Crosby slash leaves Methot’s finger bloodied and injured (Updated)

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Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.

He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.

The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.

There was no call on the play.

Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.

Gibson (lower-body injury) will play again this regular season, says Carlyle

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The Anaheim Ducks have been without goalie John Gibson for almost two full weeks because of injury, but head coach Randy Carlyle provided reason for optimism on Thursday.

Per reports, Gibson took part in practice and Carlyle has said that his No. 1 netminder will play again during the regular season. Anaheim has nine games remaining on its schedule.

That’s good news for Anaheim heading into the post-season.

While Gibson has been out, Jonathan Bernier has stepped beyond his back-up role and provided solid goaltending for the Ducks during the stretch drive — which should also be a bonus for this club with the playoffs quickly approaching.

Bernier has wins in six of his last seven starts. In nine games this month, he has only twice allowed three goals or more.

The Ducks have fought their way back into contention for the Pacific Division with a recent surge that has coincided with San Jose’s current skid — only four wins in their last 10 games and four straight losses.

Related: Career back on track, Bernier hopes he can re-sign in Anaheim